The last few weeks of summer are upon us here in So Cal and before we head back to school and the laundry list of extra curricular activities that come with it I wanted to celebrate with one last summer inspired feast, this southern picnic platter.
I went back home to Alabama for a few weeks this summer and while we had lots of incredible food while we were there I was most inspired by the picnic plate I enjoyed at Brick + Tin with my friend Natalie of Guac My Life.
When I was a kid homemade pimento cheese sandwiches paired with tomato and cucumber salad where the epitome of summer, but as an adult I had somehow forgotten the magic of these simple southern delicacies.
Our entire lunch at Brick + Tin was incredible, but their picnic plate stole my heart. It resurrected my love of pimento cheese and introduced me to a Kentucky based southern treat that I never even knew existed with their benedictine spread.
Benedictine spread is a cucumber and goat cheese laced treat that is extremely popular during the Derby in Louisville. People serve it as a dip, a spread on tea sandwiches, and sometimes just slathered on crackers. While typically benedictine is seasoned with dill we opted for basil instead to give this spread a fun new twist.
A classic heirloom tomato and cucumber salad, paprika dusted hard boiled eggs, juicy slices of peaches and a variety of crackers for dunking, slathering, and piling high with toppings round out this picnic platter. Honestly, this may be my favorite platter that we have ever created. Go ahead, grab a blanket and head outside to embrace the last few weeks of summer!!
While we love all of these goodies paired together they are also amazing on their own.
For the pimento cheese
- 1 cup coarsely grated sharp yellow cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 1 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp white cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
- pinch of garlic powder
For the benedictine spread
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 log (4 ounces) fresh goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh or freeze dried basil
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 cup finely shredded peeled cucumber, squeezed dry
- 1/8 cup finely chopped green onions
- 1/8 cup finely chopped chives
For the heirloom tomato & cucumber salad
- 1 large heirloom tomato or 2 small, varying colors are nice if possible, cut into large chunks
- 1 English cucumber, peeled if desired, sliced into thick rounds
- good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the platter
- assortment of crackers, gluten free if desired
- hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut into quarters then sprinkled with salt, pepper, and paprika
- fresh peaches, pit removed and quartered
Make the pimento cheese
- Mix ingredients in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover; chill. Can be made 3 days ahead.
Make the benedictine spread
- In a small bowl, combine the cheeses, basil, mayonnaise, salt, cayenne, and pepper; beat with a hand held mixer until smooth. Stir in cucumber and onion. Chill until serving. Can be made 3 days ahead.
Make the heirloom tomato and cucumber salad
- Combine the tomatoes an cucumbers in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
To build the platter place small bowls of pimento cheese and benedictine spread on the platter. Layer in crackers, hard boiled eggs, tomato cucumber salad, and peach slices. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top of the tomato salad and sprinkle with a garnish of Maldon salt and pepper.